Sep 12th, 2015
Walker Cup Day 1 Wrap
US Fight Back
Words: The Brigadier Photography: Getty Images
The first day of the 45th Walker Cup saw Great Britain & Ireland off to a fast start, but the Americans clawed their way back to end the day GB&I 7 – USA 5.
Jack McDonald tasted victory in his maiden Walker Cup outing to help Great Britain and Ireland (GBI) to a 3 -1 lead after the opening foursomes in the 45th biennial fixture against the USA at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The 22 year old played with his former Stirling University roommate, Cormac Sharvin, to win by a convincing 5&4, the biggest victory of the morning, and one that was the icing on the cake for GBI captain Nigel Edwards.
McDonald and Sharvin were never behind against the very experienced pairing of Jordan Niebrugge, and Robby Shelton.
Niebrugge was 86th in the world amateur rankings, when his tie for first place with professionals Scott Arnold and Pelle Edberg, in the final qualifying event in Hillside on June 30th, gained him entry to his first ever Open Championship.
He then only went on to win the silver medal for being the lowest scoring amateur and tied for 6th overall! His -11 under par tournament earned him the lowest score by an amateur in the history of the Open. He’s clearly an amateur by name only, but that did not deter McDonald and Sharvin, who sealed the victory by holing a 25-foot putt on the 14th green.
Their win put GB&I 2-0 up after the all-English pairing of Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen had put the first point on the board with a 3&2 victory over Maverick McNealy and Hunter Stewart.
In the first of the afternoon singles, 26-year old Englishman Ashley Chesters went toe to toe against the highly favoured American Bryson DeChambreau, who had surprisingly been rested for the morning.
This year DeChambreau became only the fifth golfer in history to win both the NCAA Division I championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. Again, this did not deter Chesters, who took the match to the 18th and secured a valuable half point to move the leader board to 3 ½ - 1 ½ in GBI’s favour.
Irish amateur Paul Dunne lost on the final hole to Hunter Stewart, who is currently No. 5 in the world amateur rankings. Dunne first came to our attention at this year’s Open Championship, where he was incredibly tied for the lead after the third day, when he shot a 66. He was the first amateur since 1927 to lead the Open after 54 holes, and he also set a tournament record for the lowest 54-hole score by an amateur.
On the final day he was in the last pairing with Louis Oosthuizen, but shot a disappointing 78 to drop to a tie for 30th place. But it just goes to show the quality that there is in the amateur game at the moment.
The momentum ebbed and flowed across the afternoon, with the Americans regaining their confidence after a shaky morning. A 2&1 win by Scot Harvey over Grant Forrest bought the Americans back to 3 – 3. Harvey absolutely nailed a 70-yard putt on the 17th to edge it over Forrest, who had been in the better position on both the 16th and 17th greens.
It was a great debut for Royal North Devon’s Jimmy Mullen, who bagged 2 points to help turn the momentum back for GB&I. Ewan Ferguson, who was originally meant to be a reserve player, then beat Maverick McNealy to keep red off the board. Gavin Moynihan then secured a further point beating Jordan Niebrugge 4 & 2 point to take the score to 6 ½ -3 ½.
A good half for Irishman Gary Hurley against Robby Sheldon kept the ship steady. The final match to come in saw Beau Hossler beat Jack Hume to bring the scores to GB&I 7 – USA 5.
We’re all set for another great day of golf tomorrow, with another morning of foursomes, followed by 10 single matches, which will see all the team members compete. As America is the current Walker Cup holders, they only need 13 points to retain it. It’s going to be a tight one.